Not that anyone expected anything different, but AT&T is now warning of an even greater video subs loss in the third quarter compared to the second quarter.
AT&T yesterday posted a shareholder update stating video subscriber losses will be “300,000 to 350,000” higher than Q2.
Looking further forward, AT&T suggests in 2020 things will begin to stabilize. This will be“due to far fewer customers” and the nationwide rollout of AT&T TV.
AT&T’s video subscriber exodus continues
The “300,000 to 350,000” video subs number quoted by AT&T refers to all of its video customers. In other words, those subscribed to AT&T TV NOW, DIRECTV and U-verse.
AT&T’s video subscriber decline was not far off one million in the second quarter of 2019. This latest update suggests the current quarter’s decline will be in excess of one million.
Focusing on AT&T TV NOW (formerly DIRECTV NOW), the second quarter brought with it a subscriber decline of 168,000. This followed on from the 83,000 and 267,000 that left the service in the quarters before.
It stands to reason if the overall video subscriber decline is up quarter-over-quarter, so will the number of AT&T TV NOW/DIRECTV NOW subscribers leaving. The only question now is up by how much?
New name, same old AT&T video issues
As part of the update, AT&T once again made clear its intention to focus on “high-value customers.” Further adding that this is part of its “deliberate strategy” to remove customers on promotional pricing from its books. Once again suggesting AT&T is not concerned about the losses as it foresees a future where all remaining subscribers are valuable ones.
AT&T is also highly banking on the assumed success of its AT&T TV service. Although this is not due to launch until next year, it's already clear this will be a streaming equivalent of its satellite service. With the NOW version positioned as an affordable option, the standard version will be richer, but also more expensive. At present, it remains to be seen whether consumers will see as much value in AT&T TV as AT&T does.
AT&T has also been involved in a number of high profile carriage disputes in 2019, including with CBS. These disputes have at times led to channel blackouts across its video services. Right now, AT&T is involved in another dispute and this time it’s with The Walt Disney Co. If the dispute is not resolved soon, it could result in more channel blackout. In this instance, channels affected would include ESPN and Disney Channel.
In the update, AT&T pointed to its “aggressively managing costs” stance along with its “hard line in negotiations” as another contributing factor.
Basically, another reason why more customers have left in the third quarter compared to the second.